China sets same growth targets for GDP and resident income

Xinhua, March 6, 2011

The Chinese government set a lower target for economic growth and aimed for a faster rate of increase in the income of residents for the 2011-2015 period, underscoring its goal of rebalancing economic and social development.

"By scaling down the GDP growth target, the government was left with more room to make the development more balanced and sustainable," said Chang Dechuan, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) which is convening its annual session.

Premier Wen Jiabao said in a government work report at the opening meeting of the session Saturday that the annual growth target of China's gross domestic product (GDP) for the coming five years was set at seven percent, in comparison with the goal of 7.5 percent set in the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010).

Setting a lower GDP target is an indication of a shift in the government's focus from purely pursuing GDP growth to raising the quality of the economy, said Chang, the president of Qingdao Port Group Co., Ltd. in east China's Shandong Province.

"As far as my company is concerned, the shift means that development should be driven by innovations, while conserving resources and protecting the environment," he said.

The lower GDP target was in contrast with the higher goal of raising the income of all the people, including urban and rural residents.

The government aimed to raise the per capita disposable income of urban residents and the net income of the rural population by seven percent each year, which is higher than the five percent from the previous five-year period, said Wen in his report.

It is the first time that the income growth rate is set at the same level as the GDP growth rate in the nation's Five-Year Plan.

Despite economic growth, Premier Wen acknowledged that a lot must be done to solve issues such as income inequality, high property prices and inadequate medical and education services.

He vowed to boost spending on education, health care and public housing, and initiatives that are meant to narrow the wealth gap between the rich and poor.

"The purpose of GDP growth is for meeting the growing demand of the people and letting them live better," said Chang.

Wu Cuiyun, another NPC deputy and Communist Party chief of Dezhou City in Shandong Province, said that improving the living standards of citizens could also promote economic development while ensuring that people have a happier and more comfortable life.

China will strive to guarantee that the income of residents keeps pace with economic growth, so that people share the benefits of the reforms, Wen said.

"We will adjust income distribution in a reasonable manner. This is both a long-term task and an urgent issue that we need to address now," Wen said.